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The Chrysanthemums

The Chrysanthemums


by John Steinbeck

The Chrysanthemums Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Steinbeck's simple, aloof style can be frustrating for readers, who want more details about the characters' thoughts and feelings. Why do you think he chose to keep his distance from his characters? Is it a strength of the story, or a weakness?
  2. When does Elisa take charge in her life and make choices for herself? When does she let another person hold the reins? Is there a pattern in when she chooses to be bold and when she chooses inaction?
  3. What do you think the rest of Elisa's life is going to be like? Do you think she'll break out of her lonely, isolated world? Or do you think she'll stick it out at the ranch?
  4. There's not a lot of physical contact between characters in this story. But there are a lot of moments where Elisa has physical contact with herself. What do we make of these moments?
  5. When does she seem more or less aware of her body?
  6. Why chrysanthemums? Why not roses or daises or lilies or violets?

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